President Aquino signs law protecting student-athletes (Philippines News Agency)

President Benigno S. Aquino III has approved a measure that protects student-athletes by regulating the residency requirement of school leagues.

The President signed last Wednesday Republic Act No. 10676, which protects the amateur nature of student-athletes in the Philippines by regulating the residency requirement and prohibiting the commercialization of student-athletes.

The new law scraps the two-year residency rule of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) applied to high school student-athletes transferring to another school for college.

The law also covers the Private Schools Athletic Association (PRISAA), National College Athletic Association of the Philippines (NCAA), Women’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (WNCAA), State Colleges and Universities Athletic Association (SCUAA), Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (CESAFI), National Capital Regional Athletic Association (NCRAA), Association of Local Colleges and Universities Athletic Association (ALCUAA), and National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU), among others.

Senator Pia Cayetano was the main proponent of the bill, which was aimed at discouraging student-athletes from receiving excessive perks.

Regarding benefits and incentives, Section 5 of the new law states that schools may grant tuition and miscellaneous school fees, including books and learning materials; full board and lodging; school and athletic uniforms; regular monthly allowance; medical services, and other reasonable and similar benefits that would enhance the academic and athletic performance of student-athletes.

The commercialization of student-athletes is also covered in RA 10676, with Section 6 stating that schools shall not offer a student-athlete or the immediate family members benefits or incentives beyond those enumerated under Section 5 of this Act which are contrary to the nature of amateur sports and which may result in the commercialization of a student-athlete.

Schools and athletic associations will be sanctioned and penalized for violations of provisions of the Act.

A school will be suspended from joining the athletic organization and/or charged a fine ranging from Php 100,000 to Php 1 million, depending on the gravity of the offense, while an athletic association will be fined an amount ranging from Php100,000 to Php 1 million. (PNA)